The Mickey Mouse Club

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Not to be confused with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
The Mickey Mouse Club
The Mickey Mouse Club title screen.jpg
Created by Walt Disney
Hal Adelquist
Presented by Jimmie Dodd (original version)
Theme music composer Jimmie Dodd
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 14
No. of episodes 360
Production
Producer(s) Bill Walsh (1955–1958)
Running time 30 or 60 minutes
Production company(s) Walt Disney Productions
Broadcast
Original channel United States: ABC (1955–1959)
CBS (1977)
The Disney Channel (1989–1996/hiatus in 1996–1997)
Disney Channel (hiatus in 1997–2002)
Vault Disney (hiatus in 1990s–2000s)
Canada: Family Channel (1989–1996)
Original run October 3, 1955 (1955-10-03)  – March 7, 1996 (1996-03-07)

The Mickey Mouse Club is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996. Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, the program was first televised from 1955 to 1960 by ABC, featuring a regular but ever-changing cast of child performers. Reruns were broadcast by ABC on weekday afternoons during the 1960s, right after American Bandstand. The show was revived after its initial 1955–1959 run on ABC, first from 1977 to 1979 for first-run syndication, and airing again exclusively on Disney Channel from 1989 to 1996.

Before the TV series[edit]

Previous to the TV series, there was a theater-based Mickey Mouse Club. The first one started on January 4, 1930 at 12 noon at the Fox Dome Theater in Ocean Park, California with 60 Theaters hosting clubs by March 31. The Club released its first issue of the Official Bulletin of the Mickey Mouse Club on April 15, 1930.[1] By 1932, the Club had 1 million members, and in 1933 its first British club opened at Darlington's Arcade Cinema.[2][3] In 1935, with so many clubs around the world, Disney begins to phase out the club.[4]

The 1950s series[edit]

The Mickey Mouse Club was Walt Disney's second venture into producing a television series, the first being the Walt Disney anthology television series, initially titled Disneyland. Disney used both shows to help finance and promote the building of the Disneyland theme park. Being busy with these projects and others, Disney turned The Mickey Mouse Club over to Bill Walsh to create and develop the format, initially aided by Hal Adelquist.[5]

The result was a variety show for children, with such regular features as a newsreel, a cartoon, and a serial, as well as music, talent and comedy segments. One unique feature of the show was the Mouseketeer Roll Call, in which many (but not all) of that day's line-up of regular performers would introduce themselves by name to the television audience. In the serials, teens faced challenges in everyday situations, often overcome by their common sense or through recourse to the advice of respected elders. Mickey Mouse himself appeared in every show not only in vintage cartoons originally made for theatrical release, but in opening, interstitial and closing segments made especially for the show. In both the vintage cartoons and in the new animated segments, Mickey was voiced by his creator Walt Disney. (Disney had previously voiced the character theatrically from 1928 to 1947, and then was replaced by sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald.)

Members[edit]

1956 cast photo. Front row; L–R: Annette Funicello, Karen Pendleton, Cubby O'Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Dennis Day. Row two: Charley Laney, Sharon Baird, Darlene Gillespie, Jay-Jay Solari. Row three: Tommy Cole, Cheryl Holdridge, Larry Larsen, Eileen Diamond. Row four: Lonnie Burr, Margene Storey, Doreen Tracey. Back row: Jimmie Dodd, Bobby Burgess.

Mickey Mouse Club was hosted by Jimmie Dodd, a songwriter and the Head Mouseketeer, who provided leadership both on and off screen. In addition to his other contributions, he often provided short segments encouraging young viewers to make the right moral choices. These little homilies became known as "Doddisms".[5] Roy Williams, a staff artist at Disney, also appeared in the show as the Big Mouseketeer. Roy suggested the Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears worn by the cast members, which he helped create, along with Chuck Keehne, Hal Adelquist, and Bill Walsh.

The main cast members were called Mouseketeers, and they performed in a variety of musical and dance numbers, as well as some informational segments. The most popular of the Mouseketeers comprised the so-called Red Team, which consisted of the following:

The remaining Mouseketeers, consisting of the White or Blue Teams, were Don Agrati (later known as Don Grady when starring as "Robbie" on the long running sitcom My Three Sons), Sherry Alberoni, Billie Jean Beanblossom, Eileen Diamond, Dickie Dodd (not related to Jimmie Dodd), Mary Espinosa, Bonnie Lynn Fields,[6] Judy Harriet, Linda Hughes, Dallas Johann, John Lee Johann, Bonni Lou Kern, Charlie Laney, Larry Larsen, Paul Petersen, Lynn Ready, Mickey Rooney Jr., Tim Rooney, Mary Lynn Sartori, Bronson Scott, Margene Storey, Ronnie Steiner, and Mark Sutherland.[7] Larry Larsen, on only for the 1956–57 season, was the oldest Mouseketeer, being born in 1939, and Bronson Scott, on only the 1955-56 season, was the youngest Mouseketeer, being born in July 1947. Among the thousands who auditioned but didn't make the cut were future vocalist/songwriter Paul Williams and future actress Candice Bergen.

The 39 Mousketeers, and the seasons they were featured in (with the team color they belonged to listed for each season.

Mouseketeers
Mouseketeers Years Seasons
1 2 3 4
Bobby Burgess 1955–1959
Annette Funicello 1955–1959
Darlene Gillespie 1955–1959
Cubby O'Brien 1955–1959
Karen Pendleton 1955–1959
Doreen Tracey 1955–1959
Sharon Baird 1955–1957
Tommy Cole 1955–1958
Lonnie Burr 1955–1958 -
Dennis Day 1955–1957 - -
Cheryl Holdridge 1956–1958 - -
Nancy Abbate 1955–1956 - - -
Johnny Crawford 1955–1956 - - -
Mike Smith 1955–1956 - - -
Don Underhill 1955–1956 - - -
John Lee Johan 1955–1956 - - -
Bonni Lou Kern 1955–1956 - - -
Tim Rooney 1955–1956 - - -
Mary Sartori 1955–1956 - - -
Bronson Scott 1955–1956 - - -
Mark Sutherland 1955–1956 - - -
Billie Jean Beanblossom 1955–1956 - - -
Dickie Dodd 1955–1956 - - -
Mary Espinosa 1955–1956 - - -
Judy Harriet 1955–1956 - - -
Dallas Johann 1955–1956 - - -
Paul Petersen 1955–1956 - - -
Mickey Rooney Jr. 1955–1956 - - -
Ronnie Steiner 1955–1956 - - -
Jay-Jay Solari 1956–1957 - - -
Sherry Alberoni 1956–1957 - - -
Eileen Diamond 1956–1957 - - -
Charley Laney 1956–1957 - - -
Larry Larsen 1956–1957 - - -
Margene Storey 1956–1957 - - -
Don Grady 1957–1958 - - -
Bonnie Lynn Fields 1957–1958 - - -
Linda Hughes 1957–1958 - - -
Lynn Ready 1957–1958 - - -

Adult Co-Hosts[edit]

Other notable non-Mouseketeer performers appeared in various dramatic segments:[5]

These non-Mouseketeers primarily appeared in numerous original serials filmed for the series, only some of which have appeared in reruns. Certain Mouseketeers were also featured in some of the serials, particularly Annette Funicello and Darlene Gillespie.

Major serials[edit]

Major serials included the following:[5]

Music[edit]

The opening theme, "The Mickey Mouse March," was written by the show's primary adult host, Jimmie Dodd.[5] It was also reprised at the end of each episode, with the slower it's-time-to-say-goodbye verse. A shorter version of the opening title was used later in the series, in syndication, and on Disney Channel reruns. Dodd also wrote many other songs used in individual segments over the course of the series.

Show themes[edit]

Each day of the week had a special show theme, which was reflected in the various segments. The themes were:

  • Monday – Fun with Music
  • Tuesday – Guest Star
  • Wednesday – Anything Can Happen
  • Thursday – Circus
  • Friday – Talent Round-up

Scheduling and air times[edit]

The series ran on ABC Television for an hour each weekday in the 1955–1956 and 1956–1957 seasons (from 5:00 to 6:00 pm ET), and only a half-hour weekdays (5:30 to 6:00 pm ET) in 1957–1958, the final season to feature new programming.[8] Although the show returned for the 1958–1959 season (5:30 to 6:00 pm ET), these programs were repeats from the first two seasons, re-cut into a half-hour format. The Mickey Mouse Club was featured on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Walt Disney's Adventure Time, featuring re-runs of The Mickey Mouse Club serials and several re-edited segments from Disneyland and Walt Disney Presents, appeared on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Cancellation[edit]

Although the show remained popular, ABC decided to cancel the show after its fourth season, as Disney and the ABC network could not come to terms for renewal.[9] The cancellation in September 1959 was attributable to several factors: the Disney studios did not realize high-profit margins from merchandise sales, the sponsors were uninterested in educational programming for children, and many commercials were needed in order to pay for the show. After canceling The Mickey Mouse Club, ABC also refused to let Disney air the show on another network.[10] Walt Disney filed a lawsuit against ABC, and won the damages in a settlement; however, he had to agree that both the Mickey Mouse Club and Zorro could not be aired on any major network. This left Walt Disney Presents (initially titled "Disneyland," later retitled the Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when it moved to NBC) as the only Disney series left on prime time until 1972, when The Mouse Factory went on the air. The prohibition against major U.S. broadcast network play of the original Mickey Mouse Club (or any later version) became moot when Disney acquired ABC in 1996, but no plans have been announced for an ABC airing of any version of The Mickey Mouse Club produced between 1955 and 1996 or for a new network series.

Australian tour[edit]

Although the series had been discontinued in the United States, many members of the cast assembled for highly successful tours of Australia in 1959 and 1960. The television series was very successful in Australia and was still running on Australian television. The cast surprised Australian audiences, as by then they had physically developed and in some cases, bore little resemblance to the young cast with whom Australians were so familiar. Mainstream television did not reach Australia until 1956 so the series screened well into the 1960s when the back catalogue expired.

Syndication[edit]

In response to continuing audience demand, the original Mickey Mouse Club went into edited syndicated half-hour reruns that enjoyed wide distribution starting in the fall of 1962, achieving strong ratings especially during its first three seasons in syndicated release. (because of its popularity in some markets, a few stations continued to carry it into 1968 before the series was finally withdrawn from syndication). Some new features were added such as Fun with Science, aka "Professor Wonderful" (with scientist Julius Sumner Miller) and Marvelous Marvin in the 1964–1965 season; Jimmie Dodd appeared in several of these new segments before his death in November 1964. Many markets stretched the program back to an hour's daily run time during the 1960s rerun cycle by adding locally produced and hosted portions involving educational subjects and live audience participation of local children, in a manner not unlike Romper Room.

In response to an upsurge in demand from baby boomers entering adulthood, the show again went into syndicated reruns from January 20, 1975, until January 14, 1977. It has since been rerun on cable specialty channels Disney in the U.S. and Family in Canada. The original Mickey Mouse Club films aired five days a week on The Disney Channel from its launch in 1983 until the third version of the series began in 1989. The last airing of the edited 1950s material was on Disney Channel's "Vault Disney" from 1997 to September 2002.

Reunions[edit]

Annette Funicello and Tim Considine were reunited on "The New Mickey Mouse Club" in 1977.

31 of the 39 original Mouseketeers were reunited for a TV special, which aired on Disney's Wonderful World in November 1980.

Cast members Annette Funicello, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Sharon Baird, Don Grady, and Sherry Alberoni were reunited on the 100th episode of "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club", during the show's third season.


Mouseketeers Doreen Tracey, Cubby O'Brien, Sherry Alberoni, Sharon Baird, Don Grady, Cheryl Holdridge, Bobby Burgess, Karen Pendleton, Tommy Cole, and Mary Espinosa performed together at Disneyland in the fall of 2005, in observance of Disneyland's 50th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of the TV premiere of The Mickey Mouse Club.

1977 revival, The New Mickey Mouse Club[edit]

In the 1977 Walt Disney Productions revived the concept, but modernized the show cosmetically, with a disco re-recording of the theme song and a more ethnically diverse group of young cast members. The sets were brightly colored and simpler than the detailed black and white artwork of the original. Like the original, nearly each day's episode included a vintage cartoon, though usually in color from the late 1930s and onward. The 1977 Mouseketeers were part of the halftime show of Super Bowl XI.

Serials[edit]

Serials were usually old Disney movies, cut into segments for twice-weekly inclusion. Movies included Third Man on the Mountain, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones and its sequel The Monkey's Uncle (both starring Tommy Kirk), Emil and the Detectives (retitled The Three Skrinks), Tonka (retitled A Horse Called Comanche), The Horse Without a Head (about a toy horse), and Toby Tyler (starring Kevin Corcoran). In addition, one original serial was produced, The Mystery of Rustler's Cave, starring Kim Richards and Robbie Rist.

Theme days[edit]

Theme days were:

  • Monday: Who, What, Why, Where, When and How
  • Tuesday: Let's Go
  • Wednesday: Surprise
  • Thursday: Discovery
  • Friday: Showtime (at Disneyland, with performers usually at Plaza Gardens)

Syndication[edit]

The series debuted on January 17, 1977, on 38 local television stations in the United States, and by June of that same year, when the series was discontinued, about 70 stations in total had picked up the series. Additional stations picked up the canceled program, which continued to run until January 12, 1979; 130 new episodes, with much of the original material repackaged and a bit of new footage added, and a shortened version of the theme song, were produced to start airing September 5, 1977. Since the 1970s, the series has aired only briefly in reruns, unlike its 1950s predecessor, and while both the 1950s and 1989/1990s series had DVD releases of select episodes in July 2005, the 1970s series has been largely forgotten including the generation of youthful viewers. In November 1977, "The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World" was shown on The Wonderful World of Disney.

Cast[edit]

The cast of twelve (5 boys and 7 girls) had a more diverse ethnic background than the 1950s version. Several 1976–1977 cast members went on to become TV stars and other notable icons.

The show's most notable alumnus was Lisa Whelchel, who later starred in the NBC television sitcom The Facts of Life before becoming a well-known Christian author and, most recently, overall runner-up, and winner of the $100,000 viewers' choice award, on the fall 2012 season of the CBS television reality series Survivor. Mouseketeer Julie Piekarski (born St. Louis, 1963) also appeared with Lisa Whelchel on the first season of The Facts of Life. Kelly Parsons (born Coral Gables, Fla., 1964) went on to become a beauty queen and runner-up to Miss USA. William 'Billy'/'Pop' Attmore (born at US military base in Landstuhl, West Germany, 1965) appeared in a few movies before and after the series, a fifth-season episode of The Brady Bunch ("Kelly's Kids"), and as a streetwise hood in the short-lived Eischied crime drama.

Other Mouseketeers (from seasons 1–2 (1977)) from the 1977 show:[7]

Disney voice actor and sound effects editor Wayne Allwine voiced Mickey Mouse in the animated lead-ins for the show, replacing both Jimmy MacDonald, who in 1947 had replaced Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey for theatrical cartoons. Walt Disney had been the original voice of Mickey and for the original 1954—1959 run provided the voice for animated introductions to the original TV show but had died in 1966. Allwine would keep providing the voice for the character up to his death in 2009.

Future rock musician Courtney Love claims to have auditioned for a part on the show, reading a poem by Sylvia Plath; she was not selected.[citation needed]

Former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello and Mouseketeer serial star Tim Considine guest starred in one episode.

Theme song and soundtrack[edit]

The lyrics of the "Mickey Mouse Club March" theme song were slightly different from the original, with two additional lines: "He's our favorite Mouseketeer; we know you will agree" and "Take some fun and mix in love, our happy recipe."

A soundtrack album[11] was released with the show.

Distribution[edit]

This incarnation was not distributed by Disney alone; while Disney did produce the series, it was co-produced and distributed by SFM Entertainment, which also handled 1970s-era syndication of the original 1950s series (Disney since regained sole distribution rights).

1989–1995 revival, The All-New Mickey Mouse Club[edit]

Reruns of the original Mickey Mouse Club had aired on The Disney Channel since its 1983 launch. While the show was popular with younger audiences, Disney Channel executives felt that it had become dated over the years, particularly as it was in black-and-white. Their answer was to create a brand-new version of the Club, one geared toward contemporary audiences. Notably the all-new "club-members" would wear high-school like mouseketeer jackets without the iconic Mickey Mouse ears. This show was called The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (also known as "MMC" to fans).[citation needed]

Former Mouseketeer Don Grady guest starred on an episode during the show's first season. Grady, along with fellow Mouseketeers Annette Funicello, Bobby Burgess, Tommy Cole, Sharon Baird, and Sherry Alberoni were reunited on the 100th episode, during the show's third season. Funicello would later appear on the show again, in an interview with then Mousketeer Lindsey Alley.

Scheduling and air times[edit]

From the first through fifth seasons, the series aired Monday through Friday, at 5:30pm. Through Season 6, the show aired Monday to Thursday. In its final season, Season 7, it aired Thursdays only at 7:00 pm (later moved a half hour later, to 7:30). The series premiered Monday, April 24, 1989, ended production in October 1994, aired its last episode in 1995, and was rerun through 1996. Seasons 3 and 5 had the most episodes (55, each season). Seasons 4 and 6 were shorter, having about 35 episodes each. The remaining seasons were a standard 45 episodes (44 in Season 7), each.

Format[edit]

The format was somewhat similar to the 1950s and 1970s versions with its "theme" days, but had more of a Saturday Night Live feel

Skits[edit]

The show was known for its sketch comedy. Some of the sketches played off well-known movies, musicals and even cartoons, as well as holiday-related skits. During the final season, some of the skits showed everyday occurrences experienced by teens, often teaching viewers a lesson on how to handle real-life situations.

Music videos[edit]

The series featured music videos of the Mouseketeers singing their versions of popular songs, always in front of a live studio audience or in the Walt Disney World Resort. This became one of the most popular segments, and for better or worse, the kids who performed in it earned a special lifelong cachet among viewers.

Live concerts and performances[edit]

A unique feature to the show was the Mouseketeers performing concerts on certain days (which were usually taped the day before or in the summer, when the kids had more time). During the final season, the concerts were replaced primarily by live performances that featured singing and dancing in front of the audience.

Theme days[edit]

This version maintained the "theme day" format from the previous two versions. When Disney decided to revamp the show for its final season, the show was reduced to a single weekly airing, shown only on Thursdays (although still produced as a daily series during the final season taping in 1994, The Disney Channel, after cancelling the series after Season 7 production had concluded, decided to air the final season in a weekly format).

Theme days were as follows:

  • Music Day – Mondays (Seasons 1–5), Tuesdays (Season 6)
  • Guest Day – Tuesdays (Seasons 1–5), Mondays (Season 6)
  • Anything Can Happen Day – Wednesdays (seasons 1–5)
  • Party Day – Thursdays (Seasons 1–4, 6), Fridays (season 5)
  • Hall of Fame Day – Fridays (Seasons 1–4), Thursdays (Season 5), Wednesdays (Season 6)

Mouseketeer roster[edit]

The 35 Mouseketeers and the seasons they were featured in:[5]

Mouseketeers
Mouseketeers Year(s) Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Joshua "Josh" Ackerman 1989–1995
Lindsey Alley 1989–1995
Jennifer McGill 1989–1995
Tiffini Hale 1989–1991, 1994–1995 - -
Chasen "Chase" Hampton 1989–1991, 1994–1995 - -
Albert Fields 1989–1991 - - -
Deedee Magno 1989–1991 - - -
Damon Pampolina 1989–1991 - - -
Brandy Brown 1989–1990 - - - -
Raquel "Roque" Herring 1989 - - - - -
Braden Danner 1989 - - - - - -
David Kater 1989 - - - - - -
Kevin Osgood 1989–1992 - - -
Jose "Ricky" Luna 1990–1995 - -
Ilana Miller 1990–1995 - -
Marcus "Marc" Worden 1990–1995 - -
Mylin Brooks 1990–1992 - - - -
Jason Minor 1990–1992 - - - -
Rhona Bennett 1991–1995 - - -
Thomanita "Nita" Booth 1991–1995 - - -
Joshua Scott "J.C./JC" Chasez 1991–1995 - - -
Dale Godboldo 1991–1995 - - -
Anthony "Tony" Lucca 1991–1995 - - -
Matthew "Matt" Morris 1991–1995 - - -
Keri Russell 1991–1993 - - -
Jason Blain Carson 1991–1992 - - - - -
Tasha Danner 1991–1992 - - - - -
Terra McNair Deva 1991–1992 - - - - -
Christina Aguilera 1993–1995 - - - - -
Ashlee Nicole "Nikki" DeLoach 1993–1995 - - - - -
Thomas John "T.J." Fantini 1993–1995 - - - - -
Ryan Gosling 1993–1995 - - - - -
Marque "Tate" Lynche 1993–1995 - - - - -
Britney Spears 1993–1995 - - - - -
Justin Timberlake 1993–1995 - - - - -

The Party (Seasons 4–5 (1991–1992))[edit]

Adult Co-Hosts[edit]

  • Mowava Pryor (Seasons 1–3 (1989–1990))
  • Fred Newman (Seasons 1–6 (1989–1993))
  • Terri Misner Eeof (credited as Terri Misner) (Seasons 4–6 (1991–1993))
  • Tiffini Hale (Season 7 (1994–1995))
  • Chasen "Chase" Hampton (Season 7 (1994–1995))

Guest Stars[edit]

Note: This list is currently incomplete.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Polsson, Ken. "1930". Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. kpolsson.com/. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Polsson, Ken. "1932". Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. kpolsson.com/. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Polsson, Ken. "1933". Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. kpolsson.com/. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Polsson, Ken. "1935". Chronology of the Walt Disney Company. kpolsson.com/. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Cotter, Jim (1997). The Wonderful World of Disney Television. New York: Hyperion Books. pp. 181–196 (1950s), 197–198 (1970s), 295 (MMC). ISBN 0-7868-6359-5. 
  6. ^ Woo, Elaine (2012-11-20). "Bonnie Lynn Fields dies at 68; former Mouseketeer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  7. ^ a b Smith, Dave (1998). Disney A to Z: The Updated Official Encyclopedia. New York: Hyperion Books. pp. 387–388. ISBN 0-7868-6391-9. 
  8. ^ Mickey the Magnificent. TV-Radio Mirror. May 1957. p. 21. Retrieved 12 February 2012. (PDF)
  9. ^ The Mickey Mouse Club
  10. ^ Zorro – the hour-long episodes
  11. ^ Disneyland Records DQ-2501

External links[edit]

DVD releases

Fan websites